Announcing 20 All New Lessons

We are excited to announce a suite of 20 all new lessons -our best yet!! Each lesson is jam-packed with on-set video tutorials, written companion guides, downloadable files and quick-reference guides, and much more.

You can access these new lessons in a number of ways:

 

Now, on to the new lessons!

Focusing Techniques

From traditional focusing techniques of setting marks and measuring distances, to using digital focus assist tools, students learn how to set focus, overcome focus challenges, and proper on-set procedures.

Lens Focal Length

Students learn the power of the lens, how focal length affects the field of view and depth, changes in the illusion of time, plus how to work with zoom vs prime lenses, and compensate for crop factor.

f-Stops and T-Stops

This lesson covers how f-stops and T-stops are used to determine exposure, how to work with fast and slow lenses, and how f-stops are used to determine camera exposure and lighting ratios on set.

Intro to Light and Exposure

Students are introduced to the nature of light, how it’s measured, and the foundations of exposure. Complex techniques of the inverse square law, dynamic range, latitude, and contrast ratios are made simple.

Taking Care of Lenses

Students learn how to properly change lenses, remove dust and debris, protect lenses both in transit and on set, prevent condensation, and how to properly clean the imaging sensor.

The Camera Shutter

Students learn how electronic shutters function, how to choose the shutter angle, global vs rolling shutters, motion blur, managing screen flicker, and how to compensate exposure.

Frame Rates

This lesson provides a comprehensive look at frame rates, interlaced vs progressive, time code, drop frame, 3:2 pull down, slow motion and time lapse, and how to calculate exposure with different frame rates.

How to Prep a Camera

Students learn how to prep the camera, matte box, follow focus, monitor, cables, batteries, media, and how to conduct lens calibration tests to ensure the camera works properly on set.

Imaging Sensor and ISO

Students learn how the imaging sensor, CCD and CMOS chips, and photosites function, plus Bayer pattern and debayering, CODECs and RAW formats, bit depths, ISO, image quality, and gain.

Three Point Lighting

Students learn a range of key light techniques for beauty and drama, how to work with ambient fill light, rim lights, kickers, and how to use contrast to separate the subject from the background.

How to Expose a Shot

Students learn exposure techniques including zebra stripes, false color, waveform monitors, histograms, and light meters, plus how to expose skin tones, and work within the camera’s latitude and contrast ratio.

Depth of Field Study

In this lesson, students learn how to control the depth of field and its technical and creative effects. This lesson includes three scenes of differing depths of field to illustrate the change in emotional impact. Coming Soon!

How to Direct a Scene

Students experience how a scene is blocked, rehearsed, lit, and shot. This lesson includes a downloadable script, final cut, and rough footage of the sample scene.

How to Shoot a Spec Commercial

This case study explores how a spec commercial is produced from concept to completion, and how spec projects can be used to help students find production work.

How to Set Up Your Camera

This lesson covers how to set up the recording resolution, aspect ratio, CODECs, ISO, picture profiles, plus basic lens techniques.

Basic Shooting Techniques

The lesson shows students the basics of focus, exposure, frame rate, and shutter speed in simple, non-technical language.

Basic Production Techniques

Students learn basic pre-production techniques, how to scout a location, prep equipment, mark shots, manage media, and wrap out a location.

Basic Framing Techniques

Students learn shot types, camera moves, compositional guidelines, how to frame people, and a basic workflow for shooting each shot.

Basic Audio Techniques

Students learn how to choose a microphone, reduce ambient noise, configure audio settings, set levels, plus audio recording techniques.

Basic Directing Techniques

Students learn how to block actors, basic scene coverage, plan proper coverage, shoot sequences, and how to work with actors. Coming Soon!

New Cinematography Lessons

We are excited to announce an all new lesson, Imaging Sensor and ISO. The imaging sensor is the heart of the camera system. It converts light into the electrical signal that becomes the image we see on screen. But understanding how it works and its limitations will help you improve your cinematography.

This lesson is jam-packed with tips on how to get the most out of your camera by understanding how photosites convert light into an electrical signal, bayer patterns, chip sensitivity, and working with dual ISOs. Emmy-winning cinematographer Jason Tomaric teaches you the secrets of top cinematographers, including:

  • What is an image sensor and it works
  • The difference between CCD and CMOS sensors
  • How photosites convert light into an electrical signal
  • How the bayer pattern works
  • How codecs and RAW files work
  • Camera bit depths and how compression works
  • How the bit depth affects the number of shades captured by the sensor
  • How film sensitivity affects the ISO
  • How to use ISO when exposing a shot
  • Working with dual ISOs in Rec709 and Log curves
  • How to work with gain to maximize image quality in low-light situations

This lesson includes:

  • 20:25 video
  • Illustrated supporting text
This lesson is available in:
 

New Lesson: Prepping the Camera

Getting prepped for a shoot is the first step in making sure your production goes smoothly. We met up with Drew Lauer, cinematographer and owner of Hollywood Special Ops. Drew has worked on over a hundred TV shows, and specializes in slow motion cinematography.  In this comprehensive tutorial, he takes you through his process of prepping the camera package before each shoot.

You will learn:

  • What gear to go over
  • How to configure the camera settings
  • How to calibrate the lenses
  • How to test media cards
  • Camera prep workflow
  • How to avoid costly issues on set
This lesson is available in:
 

FilmSkills Powers State of Kentucky

We are excited to announce that FilmSkills is powering the State of Kentucky online film training program.

Kentucky offers aggressive tax incentives for film production, making it one of the more affordable film production locations in the United States. Due to the growing number of films coming to the state, Kentucky’s demand for crew is growing.

The FilmSkills certification program is all about training people to get jobs! It is intended for everyone from professionals who want to apply their craft in the film industry to university students who want to break into the market. This is the only certification program recognized by the Kentucky Film Office and the Kentucky Film Association.

Want to learn how FilmSkills can power your film training program?  Click here to learn more.

All New Film Marketing Classes

We are excited to announce the all new FilmSkills Film Marketing Course. We’ve assembled an all-star group of studio executives and marketing professionals to help you craft a powerful and effective marketing campaign for your movie.

You’ve made your cinematic masterpiece, now what? One of the most secretive and difficult processes of filmmaking is selling your movie to distributors.  When you’re at the negotiating table, of all the people at the table – sales agents, distributors, agents, and managers – you are the least knowledgeable person there, and they know it.

The FilmSkills Distribution Course takes you behind closed doors to teach you how the sales end of the industry works.  We take you to the American Film Market and the Sundance Film Festival to see how deals are struck.  Learn from the VP of Distribution of Lucas Film how to navigate the sometimes-tricky waters of domestic and foreign distribution. Learn how to market your movie at a film festival and ultimately get the best deal possible.

You will learn from Hollywood’s top producers and distributors as they walk you into the heart of the Hollywood sales machine to arm you with the knowledge to be the smartest person sitting at the negotiating table.

In this series, you will learn from:

  • Jeff Ulin – Vice President of LucasFilm – Jeff managed and oversaw the worldwide marketing campaign for the Star Wars movies
  • Kyle Bonnici – Director Paramount Pictures Worldwide Marketing
  • Jason J. Tomaric – Emmy-winning director, producer of several internationally distributed movies
  • Alexa Amin – VP of Sony Pictures Animation
  • Patrick Falvey – Los Angeles based marketing producer
  • Lloyd Kaufman – President of Troma Pictures, Chairman of the Independent Film and Television Alliance
  • Kim Edelman – Founder, Fox Movie Channel’s short film program
  • Ricky Margolis – Investor and Vice President of Future Films USA
  • Kirk Hawkins – Reporter, KTLA, Los Angeles

Screenwriting Master Class

Learn the complete, step-by-step process of writing a marketable Hollywood screenplay from successful, working writers.

 

Learn to write a script Hollywood will want to produce

Every great movie is made from a great script. It doesn’t matter how big the budget gets, how authentic the actors perform, or how magnificent the visual effects appear unless the screenplay is engaging, dynamic, and believable. Films with high production values have been known to flop because the scripts couldn’t handle the weight of their own plots, structures or even main characters. Rarely has a bad script been made into a good movie. Writing a script is a craft that takes time to learn and a tremendous amount of discipline, and it also requires understanding story structure, psychology, human dynamics, and pacing.

In the FilmSkills Screenwriting Course, you will learn the step-by-step process of writing a script from top Hollywood writers.  From the very beginning stages of developing a marketable idea, creating dynamic characters, understanding story structure, and finally learning how to market your script. You will gain all the tools you need to write a professional Hollywood screenplay.

FilmSkills takes a real world approach to screenwriting by blending the art with the business.  A great script does no good if it’s sitting on your desk, so we help you write a script producers will want to make.

I’ve read so many screenwriting books, and nothing comes close to the depth and quality of the FilmSkills Screenwriting Course.     – Bill R. 

Lessons in the Screenwriting master Class

Developing the Idea

Strong ideas are the basis of a compelling story, if they are fleshed out the right way and appeal to a mass audience.  In this module, we’ll show you where you can look for creative, original ideas and how to determine their marketability with both studios and producers.

Story Structure

Stories have been told a particular way throughout human history, and movies are no different. Both the audience and filmmakers have agreed upon an unspoken structure for how the plot points in a movie are revealed.  In this module, we’re not only going to expose this underlying structure, but teach you how to incorporate it into your production.

The Three Act Structure

In this module, we’ll show you how to use the three act structure to properly pace your story, what should occur in each act, the length of each act, what happens at the beginning, middle and end of each act, and how to apply these techniques to your story.

A-Story and Subplots

If you were to describe a movie in a few sentences, you would probably give me a great summary of the main plot of the story- “Raiders of the Lost Arc is about an archaeologist who goes in search of the Arc of the Covenant.”  Or “Twilight” is about girl torn between two men – a vampire and a werewolf.” In both of these examples, you would be correct – but what you told me was what is part of what’s called the “A” plot, or the main storyline of the movie.  Movies can also include several smaller stories called subplots, which help reveal character, push the story forward and ultimately support the A-plot. In this module, we’re going to look at how to effectively write both the A-plot and the subplots.

Story Pacing

A good screenplay takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster, and one of the challenges facing each writer is how to keep the audience engaged through each and every minute of the story. In this module, learn literary techniques for maintaining strong pacing – especially through the second act.

The Protagonist

As you’re writing your screenplay, the most important character to write is the protagonist. But you have several choices – is he also the main character? Does the protagonist change or remain steadfast? How do you write a character the audience will care about?  How can flaws help the protagonist solve the story problem?
 
Knowing the answers to these question will help you craft a compelling character, so in this module, we’re going to explore techniques for writing a strong, multi-dimensional protagonist.

The Antagonist

The antagonist has been classically referred to as the bad guy, the villain, or the adversary.  But more properly defined, he, she or it is the literary opposite of the protagonist – the character who opposes the goals of the protagonist. In this module, we’re going to explore techniques for writing a strong antagonist, how to make him, her or it a real, multidimensional character.

Conflict Types

Conflict in a story is everything – it defines the very purpose of the protagonist. We can divide the types of conflict into one of several categories – each category helping to define the antagonist’s role in the story.  They are man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs. society, man vs. nature and man vs. the supernatural.  So in this module, we’re going to explore these various types of conflict and how you can use them to craft a compelling antagonist.

Supporting Characters

A movie is populated with dozens of other characters – many of whom have an influence on the protagonist and the antagonist.  These supporting characters either help or hinder, compliment or compete with our protagonist and antagonist. They add vibrancy and excitement to the story, all while serving as a valuable literary tool for you as you write the screenplay.  In this module, we’re going to explore the function of supporting characters.

Character Archetypes

All characters can be broken down into eight different archetypes – now these are the basic ingredients of creating a character, so of course you can mix and match them to create more complex, unique characters.  But every supporting character fulfills one of more of these roles.  The eight archetypes are the protagonist and the antagonist, Reason, Emotion, The Sidekick, The Skeptic, the Guardian and the Contagonist. So, in this module, we’re going to explore the six archetypes that make up supporting characters.

Personality and Backstory

The act of writing is much more than simply creating characters –  it’s about writing real people with real fears, ambitions, strengths and weaknesses.  But although you need to be able to create real, believable people, every choice you make when creating them needs to support the story. Who they are helps them confront the plot, learn more about themselves and ultimately succeed or fail. Their background gives them the tools and experienced they need to confront the conflict, and most importantly, their tragic flaw gives their story a personal arc. So, in this module, we’re going to discuss how to create personality and backstory.

Dialogue and Subtext

One of producers’ biggest criticisms of a script is the weak, cliche dialogue.  Learn how to make your script stand out with tight, engaging dialogue from working Hollywood experts. Emmy-winning Executive Producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Steve Skrovan, Writer/Producer Mike Emanuel, Writer John Anderson, Writer/Script Doctor David Freeman and Emmy-winning Director Jason Tomaric share valuable insight into avoiding cliches and writing tight dialogue.

From Title to Outline

The treatment and outline for a movie is literally the backbone of the story, and the quality of your work in this phase can either make or break your script. Learn how to write an effective treatment and outline and simplify the process of writing the first draft.  Working Hollywood writers teach you how to get the most out of this valuable writing tool.

The First Draft

Learn how to properly write and format the first draft of your script.  This module is a complete guide that walks you through every step of how to format a screenplay.

Rewriting

Once the first draft of your script is ready, the real work begins.  Learn what to look for in the rewriting process, how to identify problem areas that may adversely affect the story and how to get the most out of each plot, character and line of dialogue. Emmy-winning Executive Producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Steve Skrovan, Writer/Producer Mike Emanuel, Writer John Anderson, Writer/Script Doctor David Freeman, Emmy-winning Director Jason Tomaric and Jerrol LeBaron, president of the script brokerage site, inktip.com share industry tips and techniques on how to effectively rewrite your script.

Marketing Your Script

You’ve finished the script, now what?  Working Hollywood writers and producers take you through the process of finding an agent or manager.  Should you approach a producer instead?  How do you deal with the studio Hollywood Reader?  How do you cope with rejection?  This  module takes you through the intricacies of the Hollywood system and how to manage it.

This is by far, hands down, no questions asked, the best screenwriting course I have ever taken. I’ve finished my first script and have already gotten it in the hands of agents.  Thank you, FilmSkills!    – Eric C.